On February 15, 2019 my host mom, Hema, took Meredith and me two doors down to Emma and Elizabeth’s house. On the table outside their bedroom were piles of colorful clothing and beautiful statement jewelry. “This is our Nepali cultural dress!” exclaimed Emma and Elizabeth’s host mom, Yasoda. She clearly wanted to teach us how to put them on and wear them. We were all curious to see how the stacks of cloth were going to be wrapped, tied, and layered into beautiful dresses.
Yasoda immediately ushered us into their bedroom and helped us put on the intricate pieces. It was such a special moment to share with our amas (moms). They were so genuinely excited to show this important part of their culture to their new daughters. The dressing was an art form in itself. They gently tied knots of cloth around our hips, buttoned our velvet and silk shirts, placed jewelry around our necks and clipped on our earrings. To complete our looks they put a tika in the middle of our foreheads. Hema and Yasoda took a step back and smiled at us. We could tell they loved making this experience one we would never forget.
As soon as we were all dressed, we walked to the road in front of the house and had a photo shoot. Our mothers wanted to take pictures with us to commemorate the experience. The longer we were out there, the more people appeared. Strangers were so excited to see us wearing the traditional dress. It was touching to see the happiness and kindness coming from people we had never met. It truly showed how close the community in Prakashpur is, and we are all so happy we could be apart of it. None of us had ever worn anything so unique, and in the process it made us closer to our homestay families. We will never forget the happiness it brought to us and those around us, and we will miss our amas dearly.
Cate and Liz